Dubai: Real Madrid FC, declared the world's richest club yesterday, made an auspicious entry into the region with an agreement with Abu Dhabi's Al Jazira club, while promising a possible appearance in the UAE latest by December next year.

"This is a historic occasion when we see a trend-setter like Al Jazira sign an agreement with the world's richest club," Butti Mohammad Al Qubaisi, chairman of Al Jazira, said at the formal signing yesterday.

"It is nice to be in a new region which has such a great following for the game. But our focus is the world stage ? and money is not the criterion," smiled Florentino Perez, president of Real Madrid FC.

The Spanish outfit yesterday displaced Manchester United, after eight years, as the world's richest club. Real Madrid is estimated to have an income of 275.7 million euros (Dh1.2 billion) for the 2004-05 season, according to a report submitted by consultants Deloitte.

"We've been in talks with the Real Madrid president, and though it has not been specified in our talks, the Real Madrid team are in favour of visiting the UAE for the opening of our new stadium in December next year or latest in January," Al Qubaisi stated.

"And even if the team cannot come, there are players from the club who want to come here by themselves and grace the opening," he shrugged.

The initial cooperation agreement between the two clubs will allow an exchange at all levels. "Besides the main team coming here, there are several other aspects including coaches, young players and training methods," Al Qubaisi said.

The club official thanked Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Honorary President and President of the Board of Directors at Al Jazira Club, and Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Presidential Affairs, President of the club and Vice-President of the Honorary Board of Directors.

"Al Jazira is definitely proud to be associated with such a top club. And to be the first in the region just adds to the prestige of our commitment in spreading the sport," noted Al Qubaisi.

Despite the initial deal being in place from yesterday, it will be the responsibility of Real Madrid vice-president Emilio Butragueno to sew things up after his visit to Abu Dhabi next week.


  • Schedules of exchange programmes with training camps in Spain and in the UAE for the senior and youth teams.
  • Friendly matches or tournaments in either country.
  • Customised reciprocal exchanges of potential sports administrators, technical staff and interns.
  • Exchange of new trends and developments in administration, training, coaching and scouting.
  • Training programmes for coaches, referees and trainers to support promotion of the game.